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Murphy admits her motivation has dwindled as she takes a sabbatical

 

By Cian Tracey

It says a lot about Jenny Murphy's views on the state of Irish women's rugby that a newly-appointed coach, who she has previously worked with and knows well, wasn't enough to deter her from taking a year out of the game.

A 28-year-old in her prime walking away from the international set-up does not look good, yet Murphy feels it is necessary to fall back in love with rugby.

Murphy suffered a second concussion in November, three months after she picked one up during the World Cup, which saw her take an extended period on the sidelines.

She missed the inter-pro series, and it was assumed she would be back in the mix for the Six Nations, but instead she has opted to make herself unavailable.

Having already passed the normal return to play protocols, Murphy's concussion issues did not play a part in her decision. Instead, she simply could not find the motivation for a fresh start.

The disastrous World Cup campaign was a humbling experience for everyone involved, but Murphy emerged with credibility.

So often the heartbeat of the Irish back-line, the barnstorming centre leaves behind a huge void and, in the grander scheme of things, raises more questions about the direction that women's rugby on this island is going.

"After the disappointment of the World Cup, I found that the motivation wasn't where it should be," Murphy admitted. "I love playing for Ireland. It's a privilege, but you have to really want to be there.

"It's not fair. I would feel like I'd be taking up a space of someone who would kill for that spot.

"I've been playing since 2012 and I just needed a refresher to recharge the batteries and fall back in love with the game."

Adam Griggs is the man tasked with changing their fortunes, and he looks like a smart appointment, as does Mike Ross who was confirmed as scrum coach.

Murphy voiced her disgust at the IRFU for advertising the head coach position as part-time, especially after Tom Tierney had become the first Ireland women's coach on a full-time basis. That disillusionment still lingers.

"It was disappointing," she insisted. "All the players are fully amateur and we work full-time and pretty much train full-time. We were hoping our coach would come in fully focusing on that, because you need to nowadays.

"If you're looking at England, New Zealand, all these top countries, you're hoping we would follow the same model because that's where the success is.

"We want to stay ahead of the curve, so when you don't see that happening, it's quite frustrating.

"Once I made my decision, prior to the IRFU hiring someone on a part-time basis, I had already said, 'No, I'm making the right decision for me.'

"Hopefully me stepping away for a year and focusing on other things, I'll come back into the rugby fold and be better for the team in the long-run."

Murphy has taken on a role with a new start-up venture PepTalk, a technology-driven well-being company, while also hoping to try her hand at other sports.

"I was looking at boxing," she added. "I want to explore other sports. It's not a permanent step away, more a sabbatical."

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